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Book Review: 'Made to Stick' by Chip Heath and Dan Heath


Get your copy here: amzn.to/3PIFIL4 Chip and Dan Health are business professors who’ve been researching why some ideas spread and others don’t. They discovered the common thread: stickiness. Hence, the title, Made to Stick. This is a timeless classic that explores why some ideas thrive and others die, and is a refreshing read for anyone interested in learning how to influence others with ideas. Whether you’re hoping to get people to buy, vote, learn, diet, donate or start a revolution, this book delivers the foundations to activate those goals. Chip and Dan Heath play up the famous Mark Twain observations: ‘A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.’ An interesting truth that recognises that folklore, legends, conspiracies and bogus stories tend to move around and spread effortlessly. Whereas, important ideas, born from scientists, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, politicians and journalists fail to spread. The former have what the Heath brothers call the ‘stickiness’ factor. They dissect the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to keep ideas sticky. They refer to strategies like the human scale principle, velcro theory or memory and creating curiosity gaps in developing stickiness. Using examples such as the infamous kidney theft ring hoax, sportsmanship lessons from coaches to Sony’s new product developments, they draw insights to supplement the case for creating things with stickiness.


Chip and Dan Heath's Made to Stick helps marketers rethink the way from developing products to communicating in the modern world. The book uses case studies of success and failures, like a Nobel-winning scientist drinking bacteria to prove a point to charities using the 'Mother Teresa Effect' to a school teacher-simulation that prevented racial prejudice and so on. Chip and Dan look into the art and science of creating ideas that go beyond memorability — but also activate people to act and drive change with them, providing a solid framework for developing ideas that are compelling, enduring and impactful. The most important takeout is the belief the successful ideas aren’t just intelligent or well-researched, but they possess ‘stickiness’ — the ability to stick on the minds to be remembered, transmitted and acted upon.


Chip and Dan Heath's Made to Stick introduces a six-attribute framework to understand and activate stickiness. SUCCESs: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and Stories. Using examples and illustrations for each of these attributes, the Heath brothers inspire readers to make ideas memorable, compelling and persuasive. 


A key attribute is simplicity, which is defined by breaking down or distilling big ideas to a simple core and communicating them in a digestible way. By focusing on this simple essence, of stripping complexities to arrive at the underlying thought, marketers can not create ideas that will be understood, memorable and enduring. Unexpectedness deals with capturing people’s attention in the clutter of modern life. Surprise, novelty and randomness are some elements that  grab attention and help ideas stick out and be remembered. For instance, the disruptive innovation of Uber. Concreteness deals with making ideas tangible and relatable, rather than abstract concepts and jargon, it makes ideas easy to be recognized and understood, making them accessible to a wide group of audiences.  Abstract concepts are elusive, but ideas that are clear and grounded tend to be relatable. Metaphors, analogies, vivid imagery are all tools to make things more concrete. People share ideas they trust. With credibility, achieved from testimonials, trust, value exchange, claims tend to be more attractive, and the likelihood of them being accepted and shared around increases. Like celebrity endorsements, scientist studies and so on. Emotion is a key element that helps ideas tap in people’s insides. Joy, fear, anger, sadness, frustrations are all means to achieve that emotional connect, which motivates audiences to receive the idea and support its spread and acceptance. The point is, facts sell, emotional sell. Consider the emotional talks of TED that leave people feel motivated and inspirational. Storytelling is an important element because it frames messages as narratives with start, middle and end, allowing people to follow it naturally, while creating a sense of urgency, suspense and resolution to capture people’s imagination and aspiration. Stories are the currency of humanity. Parables, case studies, personal anecdotes are all ways to add meat to stories.


Chip and Dan Heath's Made to Stick isn't a theory book, it’s a practical book that helps readers recognize and create ideas that stick. They point to benchmarks, like using an elevator test to ensure the message is concise enough to work and so on. Whether it’s a business pitch, a class lecture or casual chat, this book offers the tools to develop ideas and narratives that reason and influence impact.


Chip and Dan Heath's Made to Stick is a compelling and refreshing read that understands why some ideas stick and others don’t. This is a book that can help marketers, educators, creatives, and leaders of all categories to learn about fundamental principles for creating memorable ideas with impact. The book is a simple read, translating big, complex ideas, trends and patterns into simple guides for a wide range of audiences. It’s a toolkit for creating ideas that not only inform and engage but inspire and motivate people. Get your copy here: amzn.to/3PIFIL4

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